Bosasa bestows ‘bar-b-quing’ bounty

2011-03-26 17:37

Tickets to a jazz festival, “bar-b-quing equipment” and R20 000 in cash for a year-end function.

These are some of the “corporate gifts” the company at the centre of the prisons corruption scandal gave to correctional services employees who awarded it a multimillion-rand catering tender, according to court papers filed in the North Gauteng High Court.

City Press reported last week that a probe by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found that the Bosasa group of companies had an “improper and corrupt” relationship with the prisons department, which had awarded the company tenders worth more than R2 billion since 2004.

The SIU claimed that the group built a house for former prisons boss Linda Mti and bribed the department’s former chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham, with cash, cars, a kitchen and payments towards a house.

The company is also fighting off accusations by a competitor that it improperly influenced 11 correctional services employees who were part of a 16-member bid evaluation committee that awarded Bosasa Operations a R900-million tender in 2009.

The contract was for the provision of catering services to South Africa’s major prisons.

Bosasa denies that the gifts were bribes and says it is “common practice” in the facilities management industry to hand out presents.

The company is now awaiting a judgment in the matter brought against it and the department by RoyalSechaba, a catering company owned by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale’s Mvelaphanda group.

RoyalSechaba was disqualified by the department for allegedly not handing in the requisite financial statements with its bid.

The company also claims that Bosasa received unfair treatment because it gave the 11 officials gifts.

Declarations of interest, signed by all 16 members of the bid evaluations committee, form part of the court record.

It shows Bosasa dishing out braai-sets (called “bar-b-quing equipment” by one official), boxes of wine, box tickets to rugby and soccer matches, and cash to sponsor various year-end functions. One senior correctional services official declared that his son worked for a company “which falls under the Bosasa group”.

Prisons boss Tom Moyane said in his affidavit: “These gifts were mainly for Christmas and were not intended to corrupt these members at all.”

In his answering affidavit, Bosasa’s chief operating officer, Angelo Agrizzi, stated that the gifts were given to the officials during the course of Bosasa’s previous catering contract with the department.

“(Bosasa) gives corporate gifts to a wide variety of individuals and entertains clients; so do other participants in the facilities management industry.?.?.I myself know that (RoyalSechaba) too gives corporate gifts and extends hospitality as a common practice to officials in various government agencies,” Agrizzi wrote.

He claims the gifts were “not significant in value, nor were they aimed at influencing the outcome of the tender”.

Agrizzi also stated that the son of the senior prisons official was not employed by Bosasa, but by an independent legal entity that provided services to the group.

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